McCain Faces Trouble Back Home

By Christine Hall | July 7, 2008 | 8:27 PM EDT

( - Arizona Sen. John McCain has so riled some of his constituents that they have mounted an effort to get him voted out of office early. The three-term Republican is not up for reelection until 2004, but the newly minted "Recall John McCain Committee" doesn't want to wait that long.

The committee has already held anti-McCain protests in Tempe, Tucson and Yuma. It's also engaged in an on-going effort to gather petition signatures for a recall, which is a special open election provided for in the state constitution.

"The Arizona electorate that's involved in [the recall effort] are people who are disgruntled with the senator for various reasons, but primarily because he's not representing the state's interests anymore in the U.S. Senate," said Doug Carlson, the official treasurer of the committee.

"He appears to be taking up issues that make him more appealing to constituents in other parts of the country, like California, New York and New Hampshire," said Carlson. "He's certainly not representing the interests of those who elected him in 1998."

According to Carlson, many Arizona Republicans are unhappy with McCain's positions on issues the senator has opposed, like the Bush tax cut and what McCain calls pork barrel spending, as well as issues he has supported, like campaign finance reform and gun control.

They also find galling his perceived on-going feud with President Bush, McCain's rival in the 2000 presidential campaign, and his teaming with high profile Democrats like Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman and Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy on gun control and health care legislation, respectively.

"The primary signers so far are the voters that had voted for the senator but feel that they are being misrepresented in the Senate now based on the senator's reversal on many issues, like the tax cut, campaign finance reform, the McCain-Lieberman gun show loophole," said Carlson, who says he himself did not vote for McCain in 1998.

"McCain had campaigned on values that were similar to a conservative, Reagan Republican, 'I'm just like Barry [Goldwater]' type of language," said Carlson. "But now his voting record seems to indicate otherwise. McCain has misrepresented himself."

While most Arizona politicians are keeping publicly mum on the subject of the recall McCain effort, a few high profile Republicans in the state have recently taken their unhappiness with McCain to a new level of visibility.

In the past month, a former Arizona national committeeman and a sitting state senator wrote op-eds in the Arizona Republic newspaper blasting McCain.
Though McCain was re-elected in 1998 with a hefty 68 percent of the vote, Carlson believes the senator would not enjoy similar support if an election were held today.

"If the Arizona voters had a choice, especially the Republican voters, they would not choose McCain," said Carlson. "Why would they? He's essentially a Democrat. He just hasn't bothered to change his registration."

The future of the recall effort is uncertain on several counts.

Garnering public support for the recall won't be the only challenge for McCain's foes. There are also some procedural difficulties, due to some contradictory language in the state constitution about how the recall process must work.

There could be a federal problem, as well, according to Carlson, because it is unclear whether a state can remove a U.S. Senator under these circumstances.

Sen. McCain's office did not return a call seeking comment.See Related Story:
McCain, Lieberman Want Background Checks on Private Gun Sales (May 15, 2001)